Furlough changes and business support – what do you think? Tell us in our Great Big Business Survey

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Business owners are being asked to share their views on Government support for business following the latest changes to the furlough scheme and support for businesses.

Rishi Sunak announced on Friday that the furlough scheme – credited with saving hundreds of thousands of jobs – would start coming to a tapered end. He also announced another phase of support for the self-employed.

It’s the latest sign that the economy is slowly starting to reopen, with some easing of the lockdown and some businesses, including outdoor retailers and car showrooms, allowed to reopen.

But things are still a long way from “normal”, with social distancing rules remaining in place and sectors including leisure and hospitality facing a tough summer.

We at BusinessLive and Reach plc want to know how your business is doing – and how you;re coping with all the changes.

Whether you’re a big employer or a sole trader, a retailer or a tech pioneer, you have faced great challenges in recent months. How have you adapted? And what do you think of the Government support that’s on offer?

Please take a few minutes to fill in our Great Big Business Survey here.

Friday night’s changes were generally welcomed by business and union leaders. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “We’re glad the Chancellor has listened to unions and allowed employers to start using short-time furlough from July. This will help employers gradually and safely bring people back to work, protect jobs and support the economy to recover.

“However, the Government needs to act urgently to make sure workers with health conditions or childcare responsibilities aren’t first in line when it comes to redundancies.

“The UK cannot afford the misery of mass unemployment. The Government must start planning now to build on the job retention scheme with a national recovery plan that prioritises protecting and creating jobs. That means a jobs guarantee scheme so that everyone can get a decent job on fair wages.”

Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, the CBI’s director general, said “The Government’s support throughout the lockdown so far has been a lifeline for businesses, employees and the self-employed. The changes announced will help ensure the schemes stay effective as we begin a cautious recovery.

“Introducing part-time furloughing at the same time as more stores and factories start to open will help employees to return to work gradually and safely. Many more businesses will feel supported during this vital restart phase.

“Firms understand the scheme must close to new entrants at some point and that those using it in future will need to make a contribution to help manage the costs. However, previously viable firms not able to open until later, particularly in leisure, hospitality and the creative industries, may need further assistance in the coming months.”

Take part in our Great Big Business Survey here

Edwin Morgan, director of policy at the Institute of Directors, said: “The furlough scheme has played an immense role protecting jobs, and business leaders understand it couldn’t be sustained at the same level forever.

“This is a much more gradual tapering than many were expecting, reflecting the concerns our members have raised. Despite this, there’s no masking the fact that if demand doesn’t pick up, many firms will still struggle to keep hold of all their staff through the autumn.”

Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite, said: “There is no doubt that the requirement for employers to meet pension and national insurance contributions from August, as employees have been doing all along, with further incremental changes to employer funding of the job retention scheme from September, will reveal exactly how fragile much of the economy is.

“There is also the fact that many businesses are simply not ready to bring people back to work because demand for their goods and services has evaporated.”

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